DIY Steadicam

After doing a video of an endurance hiking competition, where I did a lot of handheld footage walking with the hikers, I realized that I need some kind of camera stabilizer. The commercial units are unfortunately out of my hobby-filmmaker budget. I looked around for DIY solutions and came across this DIY build:

The test footage was quite impressive and the sub $100 price tag made this build even more appealing. One thing I didn’t like too much was the the way the sliding handle bracket had been done. I looked around and found a macro focusing rail on Amazon that basically does the same job and costs roughly the same as the parts for the DIY slider. This in combination with a quick release mounting plate makes for pretty easy handling.


Another problem I ran into was that I needed substantially more weight to balance my D800 + lens than just the washers could provide. I ended up buying a bunch of lead weights from a fishing supply store and drilling holes into them so that they would fit onto the bolts. Now it balances my D800 + a prime lens just fine. I tried to get it to work with my 24-70 but I would probably need to triple the amounts of balancing weights for that. I’m afraid the whole rig would become to heavy. For now the primes are fine.


I painted the body in matte black to give it a more finished look.

The whole build cost me around $80-$90 and I spent 2 weekends on and off working on it.

This video shows some test footage where I tied shoot the same video twice, once with and once without the steadicam. I shot this with my D800 and the 24-70 attached.

The difference is quite apparent. There is a bit of swaying going on after I do sharp turns, maybe I can control better for that with more weights or a better technique. I have to experiment and practice a bit more.

Update: I ended up removing the quick release plate and mounting the camera directly to the macro focusing rail. This lowers the center of gravity by ~ 2.5cm. The difference is huge. Now I can actually use the D800 with the 24-70.

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DIY Steadicam

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